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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Technology has reached the point of allowing businesses to run remotely through web-based software, opening up opportunities for more things to be done. The newest member of the tribe is PowWow Smart, a software that simplifies the ground transportation aspect of events management.
To “pow wow” is to meet, so the software’s inherent promise is to help people gather intelligently. This is achieved first by the software’s ability to automate the input of manifests and grouping of travelers into vehicles. The user interface has been streamlined into a simple, intuitive dashboard that makes it easy to use.
One of the more tedious aspects of group travel is managing manifests. Previous software required the manual input of manifests through Excel-based programs, but PowWow Smart lets users upload a group manifest directly to the system, which eliminates manual data entry errors.
“We’ve heard from operators [who] are saving 60-80% of their time in terms of not having to rework messy manifests,” says Evan Michaels, CEO of PowWow Smart. “It makes a tremendous positive impact when operators go through PowWow Smart instead of manually entering manifests through Excel.”
Once a manifest has been uploaded, the system checks to make sure that all the required passenger information, including flight information, is valid and that there are no duplicates. When a flight number doesn’t exist or match up with the time listed on the manifest, the system notifies the user, points out which passenger has invalid information, and allows for easy correction via uploading a corrected manifest or inputting the correction directly from the dashboard.
“The validation features are among the favorites for people using the system,” says Frank Schnur, chief marketing officer of PowWow Smart. “They catch errors and correct them early in the process, before it gets difficult to make changes.”
After validating all the information, the software automatically groups passengers into the most economic and efficient combination of vehicles according to parameters set by the user, which can be tailored to help users fit within a budget or make special arrangements for VIP travelers.
“The parameters can be easily customized, so you can create different wait windows at the airport and specify the types of vehicles that will be used; if you have VIPs, the system identifies them, and you can decide if they will ride in their own vehicle or if they will ride with the rest of the passengers in a larger vehicle,” Schnur says.
By reducing the number of vehicles used and grouping passengers in larger vehicles, operators and planners can promote a green angle by highlighting the reduction of carbon emissions deployed into the atmosphere.
Forecasting for budgets
If meeting planners have different preferred suppliers in a city, the system can give them a side-by-side comparison of the costs from each supplier so they can choose the one that best fits their budgets.
In addition to helping users save time by automating many of the headache-inducing processes such as manually inputting, correcting and manipulating manifests and vehicle arrangements, the software helps users forecast the estimated costs of ground transportation in several cities — another way to help meeting planners fit their budgets.
Inputting the number of attendees, followed by the three cities a user wants to compare, activates an algorithm that calculates how much it would cost to use preferred suppliers in each of the cities.
Know your costs and profit
An event cost summary is also available from the software dashboard. It displays the average cost per person, highest cost passenger, lowest cost passenger, average cost of the group, highest cost group, lowest cost group, and total cost of the event. PowWow Smart can generate reports, in PDF or Excel form, that include all the passenger information, vehicle grouping, and costs summaries.
Operators can take advantage of the cost summary feature to understand exactly how much money they are making on each event, vehicle and passenger. With the automated grouping parameters, operators can work more efficiently with planners to fit their budgets and will have an easier time dealing with last-minute changes and requests.
“The ground transportation piece is the first impression you make about your event, the first on-the-ground experience, if you will, in your destination location,” Schnur says. “It’s important for planners to produce an experience that is consistent with the quality of the overall event, and for ground transportation operators to make an impression on planners and passengers as well.”
As a web-based system, PowWow Smart is more accessible than its predecessor. Employees from field offices can log in to the company’s account without having to be at the main office, increasing the workflow of managing an event. Michaels says the company is looking to make the software available for tablets in the future.
Fast Facts about PowWow Smart
Founded: Feb. 2012; (formerly Event Ground Global founded in 2010)
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Owner(s): Evan Michaels, J.C. Carey
Product lines: Web-based event-management ground transportation software
Key clients: Hello USA, GEP Destination Management, Travel Leaders
Contact: (877) 546-0020
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